Guess what, guys?! Bluegrass Bites turned a year old over the weekend!
It’s been quite an exciting first year full of tasty recipes and many lessons. I have a little recap of some of my favorite recipes from year 1 going up later this week, so stay tuned!
Of course, we had to celebrate BB’s birthday with a sweet treat, and I thought there could not be a better way to do so than with a Kentucky-themed treat.
Bourbon Balls are a big deal in Kentucky. I think they are easily the most gifted homemade treat around the holidays in the Bluegrass State. They’re given as treats after bourbon tastings at many of Kentucky’s bourbon distilleries, and are also staple gifts for birthdays, parties, and every other celebration between.
The most traditional versions are adorned with pecan halves, and, if they’re made by someone in this state, they’re sure to pack a big old bourbon punch!
I wanted to capture all of those flavors in one pillowy cupcake, and I think I did just that.
Even though bourbon is only used in the cake portion of these cupcakes, I promise it’s enough. Every single bite of these cupcakes hits you with the perfect amount of bourbon. If you’re Kentucky born and still aren’t convinced, just wait and try one of the cupcake cores before you add more bourbon to other layers.
Each of the bourbon-chocolate cupcakes are cored, filled with semisweet chocolate ganache, and topped with a toasted pecan, praline-like frosting. All of the flavors of a Kentucky bourbon ball in cupcake form!
Go ahead and jot this recipe down on your “Must Make for Derby” list. They are sure to be crowd-pleasers!
- ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
- ¼ cup bourbon (I used Bulleit)
- ¼ cup water
- ¼ cup buttermilk
- 1 large egg
- ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup sugar
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (6 oz.) semisweet chocolate chips
- 3 tablespoons whipping cream
- 2 tablespoons butter, softened and cut into cubes
- 1 heaping cup pecan halves + 12 pecan halves for topping
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
- ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons whipping cream
- 1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven for 350 degrees. Line a 12-cup cupcake pan with liners. Set aside.
- In a medium saucepan over low heat, combine butter, unsweetened cocoa, bourbon, and water. Cook until butter melts and mixture is smooth while stirring constantly, about 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
- To the bowl of a stand mixer, add buttermilk, egg, and vanilla. Beat to combine. Add slightly cooled butter mixture to buttermilk mixture and beat until well combined.
- In a separate medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt. Gradually beat the flour mixture into the butter mixture, until blended (Note: Batter will be thin).
- Transfer batter evenly to prepared cupcake liners (each liner should be between ⅔ and ¾ full).
- Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until a wooden toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Cool in cupcake pan for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
- Add chocolate chips and whipping cream to a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on 50% power for 1 minute. Remove and stir. Return to microwave and cook in 15-second increments, stirring between, until chips are melted. Whisk until smooth then gradually add butter, whisking until smooth between additions. Let set a room temperature for approximately 25 minutes, stirring ever 10 minutes, until ganache reaches a spreadable consistency.
- Toast pecans at 350 degrees for 5-10 minutes, until fragrant and golden brown, shaking the pan halfway through. Remove from oven and allow to cool. When cool enough to handle, set aside 12 toasted pecan halves for topping cupcakes. Finely chop the remaining toasted pecans. Measure out 1 cup of the finely chopped pecans and set aside.
- Meanwhile, to a medium saucepan over medium heat, bring butter, brown sugar, and whipping cream to a boil, stirring often. Allow to boil while stirring for 1 minute. Remove from heat and gradually whisk in sifted powdered sugar until smooth. Stir in vanilla. Stir in 1 cup finely chopped toasted pecans. Continue stirring until frosting begins to thicken slightly. Set aside and allow to cool.
- Core the center of each of the cupcakes using a cupcake corer, and apple corer, or a knife.
- Transfer ganache to a piping bag (or Ziploc bag with tip snipped). Fill the center of each cupcake with ganache plus add additional ganache to the top of the cupcake and spread to form a thin layer.
- Transfer pecan frosting to a piping bag (or Ziploc bag) with a large opening. Pipe frosting onto cupcakes (on top of ganache layer) and smooth using a spatula.
- Top each cupcake with a toasted pecan half. Serve and enjoy!
Recipe adapted from Southern Living’s Bourbon-Chocolate Cake with Praline Frosting.